Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Demystifying Innovation Myths

Innovation may be the most talked about discipline today. 8 years of my innovation journey with various organizations have been very enriching. In this article, I would like to uncover few myths around innovation that I often encounter while I work with organizations.
Myth 1: Only creative geniuses can innovate. Hence, innovation happens in R&D labs or large corporate have Innovation as a department
Reality: Innovation is a competency. It needs to be integrated across the organization. If an organization wants to foster innovation, it is imperative to enable employees through structure, processes, trainings & it should be in DNA of an organization. It is not something which Hi-Pots in the organization will work on. An innovation champion could be developed & nurtured across any level from a fresher to a veteran. An organization needs to map various processes like reward & recognition, KRA, etc to innovation efforts.
Myth 2: Innovation needs many ideas & thus brainstorming
Reality: Innovation just needs more homes for ideas, meaning, it needs various platforms/forums in an organization to support the idea. All it needs is an eco-system or a support system to process & implement the idea. Brainstorming isn’t a pre-requisite always for innovation.
Myth 3: Innovation is random.
Reality: The process or techniques of innovation are quite structured in nature. In fact the random technique of innovation is also very structured. One may find the outcomes of innovation as random coz many a times the solutions are out of the box.
Myth 4: Innovation means creating something new or radically drifting from past.
Reality: There are many roads to innovation. It often creatively combines various pieces of past. At times, the pieces of past could be mistakes & early mistakes are profitable in long run. Sometimes, the detours in the process may be the destination.
Myth 5: You are either creative to innovate or not
Reality: Innovation can be nurtured through trainings. Most of the innovation is actually nurtured than being natural. Creativity comes naturally to children, however, as we grow, it needs to be nurtured.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Living Outside the Box!

Last weekend we had invited our friends for dinner. My friend’s wife & their daughter looked at us with genuine pity that we do not have a television. To add to their facial expressions I also mentioned we have been living without TV for almost 5 years now. She couldn’t help but keep her mouth wide open with sheer disbelief. So, in a nutshell, “I don’t have a telly” statement was rather intriguing to my friend.

This wasn’t new for us coz several relatives, friends, maids, movers & packers in the past had shown this disbelief.

We have experienced that initially people do feel that we are little weird only because we do not have a TV, at times few have also asked if we have a money problem :-D , there have been some who have suggested that we can buy a small TV rather than a large flat screen LED. People have also asked us several questions like: how do we unwind at the end of tiring day, don’t we get bored, doesn’t our little one demand for it or how does our kid eat without TV or tablet, don’t we miss on important news/happenings across the globe?

All I could tell people is: As a TV-free family we have found no down-sides to this choice. In fact, we savor the peace that prevails in the absence of that garrulous idiot box.
In an age of increasingly large LED flat screens & digital home entertainment systems, where people buy more than one TV – we chose to live outside the box.

A quick run-down of the benefits we enjoy & better ways we have found of unwinding which fully cements this decision:
1.       Our reading & the number of books that we bought or downloaded have increased
2.       We enjoy watching plays in theatre
3.       We religiously go for a walk post dinner everyday coz we do not slouch on a couch to surf channels.
4.       Hiking, travelling is part of our family mission statement 
5.       We spend loads of time in socializing with friends, relatives & orphanages
6.       We listen to lots of music, do craft work, puzzles, board games, cycling with our kid
7.       We jump in puddles when it rains, collect several leaves in the fall, watch stars & moon, play longer in the garden, go for boating & nature walks & I think our kid enjoys all of this more than a 20 minute screen time (laptop/tab/smartphone) that he gets once a week
8.       Our meal times are slow & peaceful. We also enjoy cooking together on weekends

We are definitely out of the loop with the latest TV episodes; however, we do stay up to date on world events through internet. Sometimes, we are a buzz kill on the conversations that go “Did you see ...last night” (X-Factor/Big Boss/Arnab Goswami & blah blah blah), but that is perfectly fine with us! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action, Cut!

Strange are the ways of learning. I grew up hearing that I should learn, now all that I hear is I should unlearn! Unlearn to adapt in a better way. The above statement precisely holds true for a paradigm shift in tools & techniques used for learning & development. Gone are the days when learning was through role plays, feedback, exercises. It has now evolved to theatre & drama based programmes. So when you think of theatre, the imagery that plays out is: Stage: Actors: Action: Fun: Entertainment: Intensity: Applause! Can you associate all of these with a training methodology? Do you think it is about creating actors & saying Lights, Camera, Action, Cut? Well, the purpose certainly is not to learn about acting, but to use the experience as a metaphor for moving outside our comfort zone. In fact it’s also about: 1. Dropping your labels (read designation) & your work masks 2. Examine one’s own thinking & choices in the face of challenges 3. Helps in subtly representing the facts that participants can relate to 4. Helps in identifying & surfacing sub-conscious biases 5. It is experiential in nature , neither didactic nor prescriptive in approach 6. It inherently calls for engagement, expression, making choices, having an opinion, reflection therefore encouraging critical & divergent thinking Organizations today are widely experimenting with this technique. The methodology of theatre based training works on the principle of mirroring. Hence it directly triggers thoughts/responses at intellectual, conscious & sub-conscious levels. It has power to depict stark and true reality in a fascinating manner. While participants have unusual experience & a child like fun, it also evokes strong responses of delight, recognition, hope, fear and silence – all in same space. It also inspires debate, exchange of ideas & internalise learning’s through deep insights gained during the process. The technique helps in building an environment of collaboration & free expressions without any fear of judgement. Like other methodologies, theatre based training has got a wide array of applications in space of soft skills & behavioural trainings. It works across all age groups. It can be used to teach important life skills to children whereas it can also be used for corporates in space of leadership & communication workshops. When a theatre based program fails? 1. If the participants aren’t aware that they are signing up for a theatre based program & why theatre as a methodology, it may significantly reduce the potency of the program. Theatre being a radical format of the program, may lead to confusion & resistance if participants are not sensitized about it. 2. Facilitator plays a major role in creating the safety net & a space to experiment. This enables participants to share their experiences openly. In absence of a safe environment, it may fail drastically. 3. The most important skill of the facilitator is to debrief well & journalize the learning’s. If this is not done well, it will turn out to be a fun session with no reflection & powerful messages to take away. 4. If debriefing is done from an angle of theory only, it may fail. The facilitator should be able to connect the dots, create a space for deeper enquiry, make the conversations contextual not content based and most importantly, process oriented than being outcome oriented. So, if you haven’t experienced this powerful technique, its time you leave your inhibitions & discover the power of enactment. Get ready to get on a path for a journey of discovery & transformation in a fun way.